There is just about nothing better than a great pint of real ale. Pair that up with some good friends, Redbones pulled pork, and an Anna's burrito as a nightcap and you have the recipe for a fantastic Wednesday night. Yes a Wednesday night--when you love good beer you make these kinds of sacrifices!
I am describing my first visit to the New England Real Ale Exhibition (NERAX), sponsored by the Cask-Conditioned Ale Support Campaign (CASC)--that is a pintful of acronyms. It really is kind of ridiculous that it is my first visit to this annual beer festival.
The night certainly started off on the wrong foot. We queued up in the will call line at 6:00pm as advised on the NERAX website. We were the lucky ones, the line outside for those without tickets went around the block. Unfortunately we were not let into the event until around 6:40pm or so. As one of my friends said, "we are getting too old to stand around in lines like this," especially on a Wednesday night.
Although the delay was frustrating it was well worth the wait--plus you have to cut the folks at CASC some slack, it is an all volunteer organization that does a fantastic job advocating and promoting real ale. Once inside I was impressed with the operation--virtually no lines and no waiting and I was glad to see that the smallish space (Dilboy Post in Davis Square, Somerville) held the presumably capacity crowd very well--no pretensions here, this is your typical VFW/Elks/Knights of Columbus type of room.
The beer was fantastic. For starters, when you know you can get Fullers London Porter, London Pride, and 1845 on cask, you are in for a great night. They spread 80 different firkins over the four day festival (they publish a list of most of the breweries on their website, but you don't know what you are going to get each night until you show up). While I was happy with the selection, I am guessing that Wednesday night might have been the weakest of the four--I know I would have reserved the best stuff for Friday night. It was a 50/50 split of American and UK brews (including beers from England, Scotland, and Wales). The Allagash Dubbel and Allagash Black were two of the American highlights.
Bottom line, I will certainly be attending the festival next year, perhaps I will try the marathon Saturday session from 12:00-7:00pm. I hope to see you at next year's NERAX.